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Daily Kos is a reality-based community. I like that. I also like another reality-based community, the James Randi Educational Foundation aka JREF. I haven't had time to post there in quite a while, but late last night I got intrigued by a thread discussing the Donald Sterling situation and gave in to temptation.

The topic I addressed was the question of whether Donald Sterling is (as The Conservative Treehouse and their echo chamber is claiming) a Democratic fundraiser, bundler, and prominent donor.

I thought much of what I wrote would already be available over here. But checking in now, I don't see it -- so I'm going to share some of the research I posted over there.

Did the Conservative Treehouse actually get it right?

All right, you probably already know the answer to that one. But please join me below the fold anyway.

The politics section at JREF leans left (it is, after all, a site where people are attempting to think things through rationally and skeptically) but there are a number of right-wing posters who are intelligent, reasonable, and willing to engage in substantial discussions. The poster whose comments caught my eye is not one of them. This poster seemed to be simply echoing things picked up at right-wing blogs in short evidence-free comments designed more to irritate than to educate.

Here were the examples which caught my eye:

[post # 36] ... Sterling is a white racist Democrat fundraiser and supporte[r] ...
[post # 38] ... Sterling is a rich Democratic fundraise[r], donor and supporter scheduled to get a life time achievement award from the NAACP ...
[post # 40]... Sterling is a rich white Dem racist.
ABC10 was asked by others what the evidence was for these claims. To which ABC replied:
Google is our friend, but [the evidence for these claims] can be found right now at the Conservative Tree House.
ABC10 neglected to provide a link to the article at Conservative Treehouse, but I was able to locate it fairly easily. What follows is the post I wrote in reply.




All right. That appears to be this article. Here's the entirety of the evidence Conservative Treehouse provides for your claims:

Donald Sterling is a Democrat Fundraiser , and a democrat supporter/donor.
[Just to be clear, that's the entirety of the Conservative Treehouse case: that single sentence with its two embedded links.]

Let's look at the first claim, that Sterling is a Democratic fundraiser. To support this claim Conservative Treehouse cites (but is careful not to quote from) this 2011 article posted at a basketball site listing the political contributions of several dozen prominent basketball figures. Here's the entirety of the article's listing for Sterling:

Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers

Records show Sterling has donated just $6,000, with no activity since the early 1990s. He supported Gray Davis early in his career, as well as Bill Bradley.

So their citation (which shows that Sterling was a contributor to Democrats 20-some years ago) does not match their claim (that Sterling is now or was then a Democratic fundraiser).

The citation for the claim that Sterling is a "democrat contributor" is a little more indirect. Conservative Treehouse cites The Daily Caller, who in turn cite something called LittleSis, which in turn says they got their information from OpenSecrets.org.

According to LittleSis, Sterling made 3 political contributions. These occurred in the years 1990 and 1992. LittleSis didn't bother to specify which contributions were made in which years so The Daily Caller and the Conservative Treehouse were unable to provide that information in their write-ups. But they report the contributions were: $2000 to Bill Bradley, $1000 to Patrick Leahy, and $1,000 to Gray Davis.

I can do better than that. (And did.) Instead of relying on Conservative Treehouse, The Daily Caller, or LittleSis, I went directly to OpenSecrets and plugged in a search for Donald Sterling.

The OpenSecrets records show a $1,000 donation to Bill Bradley on Nov. 30, 1989, another $1,000 donation to Bill Bradley on November 30, 1989 [Hmmm!], a $1,000 donation to Patrick Leahy on September 9, 1991, and a $1,000 donation to Gray Davis on September 27, 1991.

That adds up to $4,000 (assuming the two identical Bradley donations are actually separate donations and not the same donation turning up twice).

Sterling evidently gave nothing to Democrats during the entirety of the Clinton years. He gave nothing to Democrats during the entirety of the W. years. And he has given nothing to Democrats during the entirety of the Obama years. Not exactly a major Democratic contributor or Democratic fundraiser, then.

So to recap:

1. The claim that Sterling is a Democratic fundraiser appears entirely unsupported.

2. The claim that Sterling is a Democratic contributor appears also to be false; a correct claim would be that 22 years ago Sterling was a Democratic contributor. (Since then he has been even-handed in donating an identical amount of $0 to both parties).

3. As for the claim that Sterling is a Democrat, the Conservative Treehouse article you cited does not make that claim. (The Daily Caller article which the Conservative Treehouse cites also fails to make that claim.)

It's quite possible Sterling was registered as a Democrat when he made his last recorded contribution to a Democrat in 1991. It's quite possible he is one now. But your cited source provides no evidence to support that claim. Do you have any evidence to support the assertion that Sterling is a Democrat, or is this simply something you assumed?


I've had several good responses over there (and have added a few more posts of my own), which I invite people to go over there and read if this topic interests you.

The person I was responding to, ABC10, has added some additional comments to the thread (mainly to take snide potshots at Keith Olbermann) but has not yet responded to my posts.

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Comment Preferences

  •  racist "democrats" should be outed, (7+ / 0-)

    mocked and reviled just as much as publican ones.  Maybe even more.  

    I will say that even if sterling is still a democrat it does no good for publicans to point that out (except to vindicate their own racism) as no Democrat, indeed NO ONE anywhere, is rushing to sterling's defense the way myriad publican commenters and even a few pundits have rushed to bundy's side (although most threw him away like yesterday's tissue).

    A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

    by dougymi on Sun Apr 27, 2014 at 09:56:00 AM PDT

    •  I strongly agree with you. (5+ / 0-)

      That's one of the points folks were making over at JREF: what Sterling said was offensively racist and needs to be condemned, regardless of what his political affiliation is.

      And Democrats have no problem with that. Sterling has been sharply criticized for what he said by the same folks who are harshly criticizing Cliven Bundy (and, earlier, the Duck Dynasty guy).

      In contrast, Republicans and tea partiers do have a problem with that. The person who I was responding to, ABC10, is using the Sterling thing to defend Bundy. According to ABC, this makes Bundy look good. Unbelievable -- but true; you can read the comments for yourself.

      •  There are certainly Dems who are racists (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nova Land

        though I doubt there are many (or they've learned to keep their mouths in check). There are no liberals who are racist. If someone calls themselves a liberal while spouting racist crap, they aren't libs. The two are mutually exclusive.

        •  During the '60s there were a number of racist (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Black Max

          liberals. It was odd to be applauding someone such as senator William Fulbright for his courageous stands against the Vietnam War (and on other issues) and then to be standing aghast at his support of segregation -- but that was a reality of the time.

          Fulbright was a genuine liberal. He was also, early in his political career, a genuine racist.

          But Fulbright was able to outgrow the racism he'd grown up with. Many conservative Democrats left the party and migrated to the Republican Party where there racism was more welcome; Fulbright stayed with the Democrats and left his racism behind.

          Wish I had time to find a detailed article about this, but here's a a short bit on the subject:
           

          Like most southern members of Congress at the time, Fulbright opposed civil rights legislation during the early years of his tenure. However, during the Nixon administration, Fulbright broke with the majority of his fellow Southerners and voted for a civil rights bill in 1970.
    •  here's an addition post from JREF which addresses (8+ / 0-)

      the issue I think you're raising.

      A poster there didn't see the point of my looking at what Conservative Treehouse had said (and which others such as ABC were echoing across the web):

      Let's look at the first claim, that Sterling is a Democratic fundraiser.
      Let's not. We've seen racist democrats before, and frankly, cheating on your spouse isn't cool in any case (note that an open relationship is not, in my view, cheating).

      Here's my reply:

      Feel free to ignore it if you wish. But I believe that false claims based on spurious evidence are always worth exposing.

      Instead of offering honest evidence for the claim that Sterling is a Democratic fundraiser, ABC10 provided a link to The Conservative Treehouse. The Conservative Treehouse did indeed claim that Sterling is a Democratic fundraiser -- and in supposed support of this claim they provided a link to another site, realgm.com. But the material posted at realgm said no such thing.

      That's dishonest. But it's the kind of dishonesty which fools a lot of people -- as witnessed by the number of folks like ABC10 who are parroting claims that Sterling is a Democratic fundraiser and a Democratic bundler.

      I don't care much whether Sterling is a Democrat or not. (The key point is that he's a racist and that his racism should be condemned regardless of whether he's a Democrat or a Republican, religious or atheist, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, Dr. Oz fan or Dr. Oz hater.)

      But I do care about people using dishonest methods when carrying on discussions. That makes rational discussion more difficult, and makes it harder to determine what the truth of a matter is. Therefore I think it's worth exposing such dishonesty when it occurs.

      You and I may know that Conservative Treehouse is an unreliable and dishonest source, but not everyone does. I think it was worth my time last night providing folks with one more example of it. My hope is that ABC10 will learn to check a bit more carefully before passing on unsubtantiated claims and that ABC10 will learn more about how to differentiate between honest sources which accurately quote their source material and dishonest ones which pretend to be providing evidence to support their claims when they actually aren't.

  •  Good work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nova Land, Black Max

    Of course, you can tell he's deep in Democratic power politics. /snark

    Not like there would be any other reasons to make modest contributions like that. For one thing, Bradley was a former basketball player himself. At the time of the contribution made to Davis, he was Calif. State Controller - no telling what fiscal decision he had in his purview that might have pleased a guy like Sterling. Leahy? Who knows why.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Sun Apr 27, 2014 at 11:43:22 AM PDT

    •  thank you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      While I don't post many comments here outside of the Sunday Puzzle diaries, I do read a lot of the diaries and comment threads and am a long-time fan of your comments (and username).

      The Leahy donation intrigues me. As I posted over at JREF (in reply to a poster with similar thoughts to yours about the Bradley donation):

      That's an interesting possibility. But I wouldn't rule out that he gave Bradley the money based on Bradley's political beliefs and the basketball connection is simply a coincidence.

      I can't help noticing that Sterling gave $1000 to Patrick Leahy in the 1992 election cycle. I don't see a basketball connection there, and in the quick skim I've done of Leahy's committee assignments (Leahy was vice-chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during the time of the Iran-Contra hearings, and from 1987 to 1995 he was chair of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee) I don't see anything which would put Leahy in a position to especially affect Sterling's business interests, so it's quite likely the donation to Leahy is based on actual agreement with Leahy's stands. Leahy was and is one of the more liberal / progressive Democrats.

      I wish we could see which Democrats Sterling contributed to earlier in the 1980s. OpenSecrets began compiling donor records in the 1980s and their records appear to go back only to 1988; the oldest Sterling donation the LittleSis search done via OpenSecrets was from 1989. But the realgm search (done in 2011 via NewsMeat.com) seems to go back a little farther (since it claims a total of $6000 in donations).

      Unfortunately the NewsMeat site is refusing to come up for me so I'm unable to check their search results myself. But the difference in totals between OpenSecrets and NewsMeat implies to me that in addition to donating to Bradley in 1989 for the 1990 election and to Leahy and Davis in 1991 for the 1992 election Sterling may have also donated to unnamed Democrat(s) for the 1988 election and quite possibly for previous elections as well. If we knew who these candidates were we might have a better idea of what criteria Sterling used to select candidates to give money to.

      That still wouldn't answer what I find to be a more intriguing question, though: why did Sterling abruptly stop making political donations after the 1992 election and instead focus on non-political charity work?

  •  This is actually gratifying (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nova Land, Catte Nappe, Black Max

    Assuming the conservatives are basically united along a "Blame the Democrats" line of argument (unlike, for example, when they said a mild government "slimdown" was engineered by evil Democrats), then I take heart from it.

    It means they're not arguing along the lines of "He's making a point that the PC Police don't want you to hear, so they're crushing his free speech!"

    If only they would disown all the bigots...

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